Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Aquabats!

How could I not post this photo!? Evan is front left and Colin is on the right. Behind right is Dane and Travis in above Col and Ev. They were Aquabats for Halloween. Thanks to Aunt Susie for the hoodies!

The journey continues...

Yesterday Evan received his driver's license. I am still in a bit of shock. How could this happen so quickly. It seem as if it were just a short time ago that I held him, so recently from heaven, through that Christmas eve night. His head covered with bruising, his eyelids dark purple and his eye a deep blood red; the aftermath of a difficult delivery. Yet there he slept, the most beautiful and perfect soul. Our family's Christmas gift, safely from God's arms to ours. Now it is our turn to let him go, to grow up and learn those things that must be learned alone. But not quite alone, because I will always be there reminding him to be careful.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What a Thanksgiving Week!

Things were jumping around the house this Thanksgiving week! Thanks to GGUSD furlow days, we had the whole week to play and enjoy the season. My parents were down and Mike and Chelsie and Rusty joined in from Chico. And, we were able to get together with extended family to celebrate a few birthdays. For some fun, we created orange-clove pomanders. As you can see it was dangerous work by the way Evan is protecting his eyes.
Plenty of projects kept us busy. Mom, Chelsie and I made 14 more felt covered soaps. We tried out some new recipes- my favorite was the flourless chocolate cake, good grief, it was really yummy. And I discovered that if you put a little creme fraisch (sp) or sour cream into your whipped cream and powdered sugar at the start, it will be nice and thick, and stay that way. Mike brined the turkey, which was fantastic.
Early on Thanksgiving morning, David, Mike and I drove down to Dana Point to participate in the Turkey Trot! The proceeds go to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. It couldn't have been a prettier morning. The sky was crystal clear and the sun was out. We, and 10,000 others were out enjoying the festivities. Quite a few people dressed up, so we got to see a lot of turkeys and chefs running around. Dave and Mike ran the 10k. My 5k didn't start until they were done, so graciously, they joined me for a nice stretch out walk.
No, it didn't take us 1 hour 5 minutes to walk! That is just how long it had been since the race started:] Jeepers, I'm not that slow!
Then we hiked back to our car, which might have been farther that the original 5k, and headed home to get things cooking for the feast. Everyone helped and everything was delicious. I have so much to be thankful for! Family, friends, the knowledge of the Plan of Happiness, and so many little things that make my live lovely.
Even clean up from the feast was a breeze!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Morgan-Bear Trail

Finally! The weather and calender cooled down enough for us to go on a hike. And it was beautiful! Morgan Trail is located in the Cleveland National Forest, up the Ortega Highway, about 23 long and curvy miles. We combined the 2 hikes into one and feel fortunate that we started at the right trail head, which is of course, the trail head that made the hike predominately down hill. There were tons of oak and other trees providing beautiful cover to keep things comfortable. (It also helped that the temperature was in the mid to upper 60's.) Then there would be these amazing outcroppings of boulders, some intact, others with huge sections cracked off and laying next to its rock of origin. The flora was surprisingly green for this time of year with the sage being wonderfully aromatic.
The Morgan trail dead ends into the Bear trail, so it was easy to find. This is where we were grateful to be heading in a south-westerly direction (thanks Martine's mom!). The trail was steep, rocky to boulder-y, and full of sharp switchbacks. I will admit, going down this trail was a blast! But I would not want to be heading up!
We saw blue jays, and rabbits, and lizards. That's about it. There were warnings for our old friend the mountain lion, and for rattlesnakes, ugh. We did spot a very interesting foot print, I think bear, Martine thinks horse. Maybe it was the Yeti. You just never know what you will run into in the backwoods of Orange County.
A first for us-signing in at the ranger box. Since Martine is a professional, I let her fill in the spaces. She did a very nice job. We were surprised by all the hikers that had put a "?" as their destination. Is there a secret hike spot we don't know about?

This hike makes it into our exclusive 'Greatest Hits' club. Five miles of undisturbed nature, without one soul in sight. Oh, how I missed being a trail tickler over the summer! I feel renewed and re-energized re-grateful!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

6 Friends + 1 Soup = 1 Great Idea

Friends and soup! What could go better together? Thanks to a fun idea from Progressive Pioneer I am determined to try something new: Have a get together where you bring 6 quart jars of your favorite soup to swap with 6 friends that brought 6 quart jars of their favorite soup! Since not too many of my friends read this blog I will be calling you aren't off the hook:] But really, I think this would be such a fun way to make a few of our mealtimes easier as we approach the holiday season. I can't wait!

knoodles for kids

Speaking of pasta...On the radio and in the paper this week were articles about Bruno Serato, the owner and chef at the White House in Anaheim. It is a very nice restaurant, serving Italian food to the elite of the area. More importantly is that Bruno, since 2005, while feeding those elite, has also been feeding local children who live in motels. These children receive free or very reduced priced breakfast and lunch at their schools, but went hungry until the next morning. Six nights a week, Bruno cooks pasta for 150 of the city's poorest youth. People Magazine has recognized Bruno and this week KFI, the LA radio station, did a fundraiser during the Bill Handel show, raising thousands of dollars for the cause. But I am sure the money won't last long. (I know first hand how much pasta kids can go through!) The last year's depressed economy saw the number of children needing help double. And after my experiences of the past few months trying to help a woman who is forced to live in a motel, my eyes have been opened to a few of the troubles, stresses, and feelings of hopelessness that are so pervasive among people who struggle at the brink for survival.

I hear us asking "But what can I do? The problem is so huge that making a difference seems impossible". May I suggest looking over Bruno's web-site at Watch the video, then click on the Caterina's Club link on the left.

It is inspiring to see how 1 man could start Caterina's Club and through it spread hope and love to so many children here in our own community. I'm sure there are other like minded groups- if you know about one, please let me know!

For today, I am going to take Bruno a few boxes of pasta.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mmmmm, pasta!

Pesto Trapenese is my new favorite! It is fresh and textured and delicious with pasta. Since you will want to try it, here is the recipe.

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 large handful of fresh basil leaves
1-2 garlic cloves
6 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered (I used tomatoes from the garden-non plum type-and still great)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil

In a large skillet, saute the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted. Let cool, then blend them in a food processor until they are in coarse pieces. Dump them out and set aside. Put the basil, garlic and a good pinch of salt into processor and pulse several times.Add tomatoes, cheese,almonds and oil. Pulse until nicely chopped. Season with pepper. Cook pasta until al dente, then reserving one cup of the pasta water, drain. Immediately toss the pasta with the pesto, adding reserved water if needed. Eat hot or room temp.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Visit (and it wasn't from Santa)

This morning the Institute Director came to observe my seminary class. At least this year I didn't break out in hives. Perhaps not having much advanced notice helped. The kids were great, as always, and the director should be feeling pretty confident in his job security. Hopefully there will be only 1 more visit, and that in the distant future:] Time for a nap.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Felted Soap

Yes, felted soap. It does sound weird, but here they are-and they are amazing. They are bars of soap that you wrap wool roving around and then rub, rub, rub, until the wool is nice and snug around the soap, forming a non-slippery, beautiful scrubby thing! They would be perfect for a family activity or achievement day/young women or even cub scouts-just imagine camo covered soap:] Let me know if you need directions. Now, what to do with them?!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dutch Babies!

No, not this kind of Dutch baby! I'm talking about those delicious, crispy, golden, eggy dutch babies that we make for General Conference morning. They are super easy and the results are impressive. They just might have to become a conference tradition at your home too! Here is the recipe:

5 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (use the real thing)

Preheat oven to 425' .
With a whisk, mix together the eggs, flour , milk and salt in a bowl. While this rests, place the butter on a jelly roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet and toss it into the oven. When the butter has completely melted give the egg mixture another good whisk, take the pan out of the oven and tip it around so the batter covers every spot and then pour the batter into the pan. Pop it all back into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. It should be puffy and well browned. Cook longer if you think it needs a little extra time to reach this stage of perfection. Cut into pieces with a knife, or as I prefer- scissors, and top with your favorite things.
Some suggestions are:
powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon, very traditional
whip cream and berries
chocolate, any type

(Hint: sometimes I spray my pan with Pam before the butter goes in, just for safety's sake)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dig In!

I found something fun to do this weekend- the Slow Food group is organizing the "Great American Dig In", a day of community service this Saturday to support local food production. There aren't too many activities in Southern California, but there is this one:

Santa Ana, CA - "National Service Day of Action: Dig In!"

CONTACT: Heather Westenhofer, Slow Food Orange County (Click here to RSVP)

2115 W. McFadden Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704

9/25/10 9.30am-1pm

Building a raised and terraced bed in the Grain Project community garden in Santa Ana and preparing serving and sharing lunch with the group.

There are fun things going on all across the country. I liked the one in Sacramento where you go see a movie about kids in a cooking competition to improve their school lunch menus. The proceeds go to area lunch programs. Here is the web site for more (the link wouldn't work}

Maybe I'll see you there! If you want to car pool, give me a jingle.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remembering our past

It has been only 90 years since the struggle for women to vote was successful. My mom sent me this link to an interesting set of photos and information about the terrible situations many of the women faced for speaking up for their rights. Unfortunately, I can't get it to copy, so if you want to read it, let me know.

Mr. Fox

He is done! A photo amid the chives and basil seemed appropriate-I read Fantastic Mr. Fox about 20 times as a youth! Time to dig my well thumbed copy out and make it 21.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My knees are still knocking!

We went up to Chico for a wonderful visit with Mike and Chelsie this Labor day weekend. We were busy shooting the guns, ( yes, I can hit the clay pigeons!) visiting the farmers market, checking out one of the top 10 quilt shops in the U.S. and Canada (items to be shown off at a later date) walking around Bidwell park and of course, fishing. The fishing trip is where the knee knocking comes in.

Mike had asked his very nice friend, Scott, about a place to fish. Scott, being the consummate outdoors-man, knew just the place. It was a short drive into the Sierra's, and down, down, down into the Feather River Valley. It was more like a gorge. The mountain sides were steep, craggy granite cliffs-it is a beautiful place. The Feather River is a good sized river and our destination was near the bottom of the hydro-electric dam. From our parking spot the river was quite a bit below us-straight below us. I figured there must be stairs, or some kind of a switchback type trail to get to the bottom. As an advanced-easy hiking Trail Tickler, I'm pretty confident about my hiking abilities. But this was not a hike to the bottom, this was a rope and piton cliff/rock climbing adventure-without the rope or pitons! There were a few places where I thought I was going to have to stay on the little gravel ledge for the rest of my life. Thankfully, Scott must be part mountain goat, and was able to help me get down in one piece. He wins the award for best Sherpa EVER! Once at the bottom, everyone put in their hooks and started having fun. David caught 3 fish on his first 4 casts. Number 4 cast was an 18 inch rainbow. I found a patch of blackberries between 2 big boulders, and feeling quite brave after my decent into the jaws of death, climbed, ungracefully, to do my bit of gathering while the others did the hunting. Too quickly the time came to head back up the cliff. I will frankly state that I was terrified and had to pray pretty hard for strength to make it up. It is hard when your legs feel like rubber and your heart is beating out of your throat! There were just 2 very awful parts and one rock slide and then we were all up to the top. (The majority of rocks being loose and wiggly added to the adventure.) Scott led us to another great fishing spot, which he assured us was easier to get to. I believed him, really! But I was happy to sit in the car and work on my knitting while listening to "The Prairie Home Companion" on the radio. Truth be told, my knees were still shaking! The rest enjoyed another hike down to the river and caught some beautiful fish. I enjoyed watching the sunlight fade from the mountain crest and the stars pop out from the sunroof of my jeep. It was the most memorable fishing trip to this point in my life. I am a bit proud of myself for pushing through my fear of heights and steep places so I could experience this beautiful part of California with my family. And our Sunday trout dinner was an excellent prize for all of our efforts.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Isn't this the prettiest thing you have seen today? I am off to get some watermelon and try this recipe out. I am also going to pick some figs and make some fig confiture! Something to do with figs besides giving them away! You need to look at the story on NPR about canning- you will be joining me in the kitchen, I just know it!

Watermelon Slushie

I like to freeze the watermelon for this recipe, but you don't need to. You can use unfrozen watermelon and throw 6 or 8 ice cubes into the blender instead. Also, the kids love to make melon balls using a melon baller to make the garnish for the drink. You can top with any fruit they like.

Watermelon Slushie
Sala Kannan for NPR

Makes 4 servings

4 cups diced watermelon, frozen (freeze fresh watermelon, if possible)

2 tablespoons runny honey

Juice of 2 lemons

Mint leaves and watermelon balls, for garnish

Freeze watermelon for about 6 hours or until it is frozen through. Remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for about 10 minutes.

Mix the honey and the lemon juice together. Place the watermelon and the lemon juice-honey mix in a blender. Puree. If the drink is too thick, add a little water or your favorite juice. Check for sweetness. Add additional honey if needed. Pour into 4 tall glasses and garnish with the mint and watermelon balls.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Plum Jam

Because of Martine's regularity and kindness at the Farmer's Market, the fruit lady gave her 3 crates full of unsellable plums. It is good to have friends that share-so Monday we sorted and pitted and boiled and stirred, and by the end of the afternoon 30 beautiful jars of plum jam were sitting on the counter, ready for being enjoyed over the coming fall and winter. It felt wonderful to take something that was headed to the landfill and create something delicious. The too ripe plums went to the chickens and only the rotten ones, which turned out to be maybe a third at the most, of the total plums went into the dumpster. The jars are ones that I have used many times so we can say with honest pride that we recycled, reduced and reused. It was a great day!

Summer Hikes

There have been two hikes this summer by the Trail Ticklers, and that will do for the time being. It is too HOT around here! Earlier in the summer Martine and I hiked the Telegraph Canyon Trail via Rimcrest. Despite our early start the temperature reached at least 100' on the trail, with no trees to provide shade. We did see bobcat and snake tracks, other than that we just tried to finish the hike as quickly as possible! It was so bad that I forgot to take photos to document our plight. Our favorite part of the trip - cold drinks at the Trader Joe's at the bottom of the hill. My suggestion is to do this hike in the snow:]

Our next hike included David and was on the Santiago Trail off of El Toro Road, just past Cook's Corner. It was a bit tricky to find the turn-off road as the street sign was covered by a tree, and the trail head is not marked, just a big steel gate up the road from where you can park. Be prepared, it is about a half mile steep hike just to get to the gate. The trail is very popular with bikers-much to my chagrin- as something, sounding like a mountain lion about to eat us, approached from behind. I squealed, ran up to Martine, (we were on a very strenuous up hill part, me at the back of the line) grabbed her pack in an effort to protect her (how that would do anything I don't know, but hey, I was frantic) and then realized it was just a biker. Ha ha, that was funny...errrrg. I had a small desire to kick his back tire and shout "use your bell" but I refrained. Trail Ticklers are always under control. Still, I'm sure it was pretty funny for the observers, luckily nobody had a Flick-Vid device so I won't be on you-tube.

The view was quite stupendous from the top, we could see to Catalina Island. But it was terribly hot and unprotected. This trail had been a fire road and is in the process of growing over to a more natural state. Our one bit of wildlife was the horned frog you can barely see in the above photo. I had never seen one before, so there you go, another first. This hike has the dubious reputation of being the hike where we decided that Orange County is too hot in the summer for enjoyable hikes. We will resume with our last three hikes (yes, that's right, only three more left in the book!) in the fall, or when the weather turns cool, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Today, while doing some work in the back yard, I was stung by a wasp. Yes, I too thought it very rude. It was also quite painful. I am doing much better now, thank you and it made me think that I should post my treatment for a wasp sting, just in case you come across an unfriendly one in your yard.
*Wasp stings are base-they are neutralized with an acid.
Vinegar works well
Bee stings are acidic- they are neutalized by a base.
A baking soda and water paste works well.
*Benedril reduces the swelling and lets you
have a nice nap for a complete recovery.
I hope this helps!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weir are the bees?

Last month Martine and I went on an amazing hike in Anaheim Hills called the Weir Canyon Trail Loop. As you drive into well manicured neighborhoods with gigantic homes, it seems impossible that there would actually be a trail where development was not evident. But there was the trail head, right where it was supposed to be, and after a short ascent we dropped down into this incredible valley of rolling hills and unbelievable views. The effects of the rain were beautifully evident in the vast array of wildflowers and grasses. Lizards of several varieties were everywhere, really- everywhere! Everything was so pretty that it took us quite a bit of time to complete the first half of the trail, actually, the second half too! While there were no mountain lion tracks, we did meet with a new danger never before seen by a Tickler. As we began our final descent, the trail was quite wide open, with grasses along both sides of the trail and a large tree next to the trail about 30 yards from where we were. A very spry hiker quickly, and I will add, a little noisily, passed by us and then the tree. As I watched her go, I noticed a strange cloud emanate from said tree. This darkness spread across the path and sort of hovered there. Martine was ahead of me talking about something important, I'm sure, when I grabbed her arm and pulled her back. I realized we were heading into a swarm of bees. "Oh, please don't be killer bees" ran through my head. Gratefully they stayed where they were, but we very quickly headed back up the hill. I had stopped, but Martine kept increasing her distance from the bees (she is very cautious when she is not breaking a federal law). I joined her at the top (almost) of the hill where we watched and waited and tried to come up with a plan B. When retracing the whole trail seemed like a good option, the bees decided they had seen enough of the world and headed back to their tree. I wish there had been a video of us trying to silently pass that tree. Running made too much noise with our water, compass, snack filled packs, but walking was just too slow! I'm not sure how you would describe our escape from danger, but it did make for a good laugh- at a safe distance. Once again, the Trail Ticklers faced danger, and conquered it. It is good to be a Tickler.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Letting my joy show!

Can I take just a moment and express my pride for Lindsey and her rugby years? I can't help but get a bit emotional when I think of her running around the field, knocking over women twice her size, and scrumming with the best of the NCAA for 4 years with the Womens Cougar Rugby Team. This team has gained great recognition this year due to forfeiting their chance to be U.S. champions because they would not play on Sunday. Their decision was difficult and honorable, and I am grateful for their example to thousands of people who understand the power of Sabbath day observance. I truly feel that they were able to make that decision because of the years of similar decisions to not play on Sunday that had been made by the players who came before them. Lindsey was one of those players. Thank you Lindsey, for putting character in front of fame and obedience before pride. That's my girl!

Your can still see some photos of Lindsey at the team web

Saturday, May 29, 2010


It is Friday evening, seminary is over for the year and I have this glorious chance to lie on the trampoline, read my hike book and look up into the apricot tree at the hummingbirds zip around. Aaaahhh. This is contentment.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

BABIES - Official Trailer [HD]

I saw this preview and fell in love with these babies. What an amazing world we live in with so many different traditions and ways of life, yet with one goal; to raise the children of the world in love, and with a hope that we can make it a tiny bit better for each generation. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Holy Jim Trail

Mom and I had a great adventure-the two of us hiked the Holy Jim falls trail and lived to tell about it. Actually the trail was beautiful and not that hard to hike. We did have to cross the stream 10 times which was tricky and really fun, but the incline was not very steep, and we were under live oaks most of the time, enjoying their shade and wild flowers were all around us. There was one wall of a cliff that was covered with ferns; and interesting juxtaposition to the neighboring cliff wall which was bare except for the cactus that was growing along its foot. The challenging part of this trip was the 4 mile drive to get to the trail head. Those 4 miles took 45 minutes to travel, with the last mile taking 14 minutes. It was terrible. The Jeep has new creaks, but she made it through a continuous road of huge potholes, rivers, and 20 foot wide mud puddles, whose depths we will never know. The best part was being with my mom, the newest Tickler!

Never seen that before!

Irrefutable proof that the street sweeper was doing donuts in front of my house. This was a red letter day:-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life with less sugar

I am into my second week of eating a sugar-less weekday diet. Since I believe in the slogan: "Moderation in all things" allowing a small treat on the weekends, I feel, would be prudent. I will have to say that while the small brownie on Saturday night was yummy, I noticed that afterwards I didn't feel that great...could it be my body likes the reduction of refined sugar after all???
I relied on a few food items to get me through the week-

-Freeze dried strawberries, mangoes, and pineapple from Trader Joe's. (no sugar added to these babies!)
-Grapefruit juice and seltzer water. (I'm also trying to reduce the use of artificial sweeteners)
-Green olives, the giant queen sized ones with pimentos.
-Cottage cheese.
-Some words from Brigham Young, including this: “Indulgence of appetite is not worthy.”
-Posting my sugar free days count on the blog, so thank you for keeping me inline:-).

It is not easy yet, this sugar free business, and the weight has not been sliding off, but I do feel better, not just physically, but mentally too-because I am being proactive with my health and being more in control of the dietary decisions I'm making.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter In Chico

We drove up to visit Chico this past weekend to be with Mike and Chelsie for Easter. The trip was much prettier than usual along the I-5 because of the amazing wild flowers that were in bloom. I have never seen so much lupine in my life. The poppies were starting to come out and there were blankets of some yellow flower covering almost every hill. And the hills...were actually green.
We couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit Pea Soup Anderson's for the traditional Hap-pea and Pea-wee photo. Evan is perfecting his "trepidation" look.
Saturday morning brought our "Visit to the Market" where we love to see what the farmers and tradespeople have been working on. The Veggies were amazing. Even I was in awe of the beet display. My mom will be ecstatic to hear that I actually liked the yellow beets that we bought and cooked. (I must be growing up:-))

Beets, flowers cheese, pistachios, dried apricots, asparagus, scones and buns-all were delicious. But the best part was to see Mike and Chelsie.

Happy Easter to you all.

"He Lives"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Here are a few photos of our most recent hike in the Cleveland National Forest. It was wonderful to be out on the trails again, after such a rainy weekend winter, but the rain and wait were worth it-the waterfall was unbelievable and unexpected.

It is hard to tell, but this waterfall is about 200 feet below the trail from where I am taking this photo. It was huge!

We went on two hikes this day, one was the very short El Cariso Nature Trail, a 1.2 mile loop around a hill. The fun part of this hike was the mine shaft. As you can see Ms. "Throw Warnings to the Wind" liked it too.
The second hike was called the San Juan Loop Trail. It was 2.4 miles, with an elevation gain of 320 feet. There were tons of trees shading the trail, and at one part the path followed a very full stream. Ferns and mosses were growing out of rocks and cliff sides. Small and kind of large rocks were everywhere on the trail and made walking a bit tricky-that must be what makes a mountain hike a mountain hike! About half way through the hike we could hear the roar of the waterfall. According to the map, we were close to a spur that led to the vista point for the falls. We were a bit nervous that the hole we saw in the chaparral we had just hiked by might have been the spur we had been looking for. A few dozen feet ahead, 2 chatty young women asked if we had passed the trail to the falls. If they hadn't seen it, we figured we must have passed it already! So we went back,( it was only about 50 feet,) and headed down what we thought must be the trail. It was a trail alright, but not the marked one. After some tricky maneuvering down the rocks, we arrived at a very secluded part of the stream. There were stone ledges that the water very prettily fell off of, but they were only about 8 inches in height. Even so, the place was very tranquil and made for the perfect rest spot. After a nice drink and bit of a relax, we hurried out in order to avoid any rangers and their finding us where we shouldn't be. The lesson learned: never trust the hiking skills of young talkative women who are not Ticklers. The trail to the falls was impossible to miss, they had walked right past it. Fortunately, we did not miss the trail or the falls. I never knew such a thing existed in Orange County. (Well, actually Riverside County, but it is close, and I'm sure water rights or something are involve.) It was a glorious outing!
I can't wait to do some more hikes in the mountains. The Holy Jim Trail is calling my name...